We all know proper training and exercise is the key to get consistent results. As long as you put in the effort, you’re bound to reap the benefits. But what happens when you keep pushing but nothing happens? Your body can hit a plateau at some point in your life. No matter how much effort you put into it, nothing seems to happen to you.
If this has already happened to you, it might be time to step back for a while. If you train hard, you should recover harder. No, it doesn’t mean you should remove exercise from your break. Detraining can help your body and mind rest for a while before hitting back to your intensive workout.
There’s still a lot of misconceptions about detraining. For some, they think it will weaken their body. But if you do it right, you’ll find your mind and body more refreshed than ever. In this article, we’ll be exploring what detraining is and how you can incorporate it properly.
What is Detraining?
Detraining is often called reversibility. It’s when an athlete decreases their training regimen for a period before going back to their routine. It’s part of a conditioning regimen for athletes worldwide. However, most people think it decreases fitness levels, which may be hard to recover especially if your competition is near.
Overall, there’s a decline in training to help the body and the mental distress and recover. It’s also used by injured athletes or any athlete who’s had rigorous training during the whole season.
The best way to detrain is by lowering back the workout intensity without completely abandoning it. You will still need to exercise one to three times per week so it won’t be hard when you retrain. It will also keep you from overtraining your body and get past plateaus.
What Is The Difference Between Not Working Out And Detraining?
There’s a fine line between detraining and not working out. If you’re the type of person who’s never tried taking a day off from exercising, then the occasional detraining can help you recuperate and rest. This can help you get back your gains once you start with your usual regimen.
It’s like an active recovery but done in a longer period. But during those two to three weeks, you’ll still be doing a lighter routine so you’re not totally at loss.
Unless you had an injury, you should be doing a lighter workout load than you would normally do. You should do proper “maintenance” to keep your body running without straining it too much.
You should always remember that your body needs proper rest – and not just physical rest too. This should be the time you unwind and relax your mind to prepare yourself when you get back. You can’t exactly gain muscle if you’re not focused on your training. You might just end up overworking yourself without accomplishing your goal.
If you don’t work out during your detraining period, then expect that you will have a harder time getting back on your feet after that. Research has shown that avoiding training for a few weeks can result in a decline in performance by more than 20%. If you can do 50% of the workout load, then your performance declines by 5% to 10% only. You’ll be performing better after your resting period if you incorporate a few sessions in between.
Always keep in mind that the longer you take your break, the greater impact it will have on your conditioning. Not working out will mean your performance levels will drop significantly when you get back. You’ll also be spending more time trying to get back to your prime condition if you spent time not doing any type of exercise during the break.
Why Is Detraining Beneficial?
Your body needs to recover well to perform well. The more rigorous the training, the harder you should rest and recover. There’s a limit to how much stress your mind and body can take. Detraining can help put you at ease so you can focus on other things like your personal life or your day job. Just 1 week of detraining can refresh you so you can take on heavier loads when you get back from rest.
In fact, According to Cris Dobrosielski, the American Council on Exercise spokesperson, if you skip working out for a few days or a week, you won’t notice any difference. As long as you don’t make detraining a regular habit, you won’t have any problems with falling out of shape.
Furthermore, you can use this time to focus on other aspects of your life. Having a lighter training regimen will mean you’ll have more time to do other things. You can take this time to go on a vacation or spend more time with your family. Some athletes use their detraining time to focus on their business or studies. While others use this time to try out other sports to cross-train. It’s all up to you as long as you can get enough sleep and work out every few days per week.
Keep In mind though that if your main goal is to raise your future performance, you should have a proper timeline for training and detraining. Detraining should be part of your program, not just something you’d do on a whim. It’s going to be tough for you if you detrain a few months away from your competition.
How To Detrain Without Losing Gains
If you skip detraining because you’re worried about losing your gains, then there’s good news for you. There’s a right way to recover without having to lose all your hard work. Why exactly do some people lose gains during detraining? If you know someone who has undergone extreme detraining (meaning, no workout for the whole duration) then you’ll know that apart from losing performance levels, their muscle gains are now almost gone.
That’s because the body stores energy in the muscle fibers. Once it recognizes that you no longer need that much energy, it will begin storing less glycogen. When that happens, your muscle fibers shrink. This is also what others call atrophy. And when atrophy happens, you’ll need to work harder than you did before since it needs more stimuli.
Apart from losing muscle, you can lose your cardio gains too. That’s why it’s important to keep your body moving every once in a while. However, if you are sick or injured, then it’s much better to rest.
It’s alright to lose your gains even if you’ve worked hard for them. Always prioritize your health above all. You can always get back when you’ve fully recovered.
If you’re not injured or sick, here are some ways you can properly detrain to avoid losing your gains:
· Try Cross-training
You can incorporate lighter activities that aren’t usually part of your routine. You can explore new sports during this time if you want to learn something new. Just make sure they’re not too intensive so you won’t risk yourself getting injuries.
Low-impact exercises are your best bet. Walking, swimming, cycling, yoga, and pilates can help your body stay in shape without adding more stress to it.
· Fix your workout schedule
If you can’t exercise due to your busy schedule, then you can break your workout sessions down into shorter but more frequent sessions. You can also try doing high-intensity interval training once or twice a week. Anything will do as long as you can squeeze it in your time. It’s better to do a 5 minute HIIT workout than none at all.
· Focus on your weakness
If you have trouble with mobility or flexibility, you can use this time to work on those areas. If you’re injured and want to exercise, you can focus on areas where your injury isn’t affected.
· Eat right
Make sure you eat well during this time. Lesser exercise means lesser caloric burn. If you want to minimize your losses, don’t forget to eat enough protein.
How To Retrain After Detraining
When you get back, there’s no exact way to tell how long it will take before you can get back to your fitness level. If you didn’t adopt a sedentary lifestyle, you won’t need long before you get back to your peak condition.
Here are some tips to help you get back to your peak:
- Slowly incorporate your workout. Work your way up gradually with intensity to avoid injury.
- You can do low-intensity workouts for about a month before going back to your regular intensity.
- Try joining group activities during your cross-training.
- Be patient with your journey.
- Don’t feel bad if you notice you’re not performing as well as you did before detraining. Like with all things, just be consistent. You’ll get there eventually as long as you don’t overtrain or quit.
Diet During Retraining
Detraining can lower your metabolism. Since you’re not burning that many calories as you did before, you should be mindful of what you eat. If you don’t adjust your intake, you’ll end up gaining weight.
So when you’re getting back, a good way to get back those gains is by increasing your protein while decreasing your calorie intake. Make sure that your calorie intake matches well with your current workout intensity.
Sometimes the best way to deal with plateaus is to step back and rest. Our bodies can handle stress but it has its limits. Taking a short break can help you refresh your mind and recover your muscles. You’ll need it to move beyond your limits.